The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/p/prutschi.manuel/zundel-affair/za-03

Subject: The Zundel Affair: A Report by Manuel Prutschi (3/11)

Background and Beginnings

Ernst Christof Friedrich Zundel was born on April 24, 1939, in the
village of Calmbach, in the Black Forest region of Germany. He was
barely six when the war ended in 1945, too young to have joined the
Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth) or to have been involved in anything
serious in the Nazi period.[14] Ernst was one of three siblings; if
his account is to be believed, his sister became a Christian
missionary in Africa and his brother a lawyer in the United
States.[15] His father was a woodcutter who had served as a medic
during World War II; his mother was of peasant stock. Both his
parents were apolitical. The family is said to have lived on the same
farm for 300 years. 

In his autobiography, Zundel writes that, from this inconspicuous 
background, he emerged with boyhood memories of personal suffering 
during Germany's defeat - "hunger, cold and sickness" under the 
French military occupation.[16] Moroccan and Algerian troops occupying 
the local schoolhouse forced him and his friends to attend classes 
in the Protestant church. In 1953, he enrolled in a trade school, 
obtaining a diploma as a photo retoucher three years later. 

This became his later vocation in Toronto. After
graduating, he lived and worked for a while in north Germany. In
1958, at the age of 19, he emigrated to Canada, bringing a letter of
recommendation from his last German employer which described him as
excellent at his trade and a person whom everyone liked: Germany's
loss was Canada's gain! The immigrant first settled in Montreal,
where he married Jeannick LaRouche, a French-Canadian girl from the
Lac St. Jean region. The couple had two sons, Pierre Ernst and Hans.

Continuing his education, Zundel studied history and political
science at Sir George Williams University (he was later to credit
these studies with his "general historical background" to the
Holocaust).[17] However, it was outside the university walls that
Zundel received the education that mattered the most to his
subsequent career. His teacher was Adrien Arcand, Canada's
quintessential Nazi who, in the early 1960s, was living out his last
years in Montreal. 

In his autobiography, Zundel devotes space to what
he regards as the sad story of Arcand's arrest and imprisonment
without trial for the duration of World War II as "Canada's
Hitler."[18] He bewails this injustice, especially since Arcand never
received a penny of restitution. The master's fate, according to his
youthful admirer, was no different from that of thousands of Germans.
Italians and Japanese. "Not a soul writes about (them) in Canada
today and no monuments have been erected and no Holocaust film has
been produced about them.''[19] Arcand himself was a philo-German who
spoke German fluently. Taking Zundel under his wing, he made his
private library of 4000 books, including many German pre-war
monographs, available to his disciple. 

Arcand also introduced Zundel
to, or placed him in touch with, his friends and contacts in Canada,
the United States and Europe. This network included noted antisemites
such as Paul Rassinier, Henry Coston. Admiral Sir Barn-Domville, Sir
Oswald Mosley and others. As a result of these contacts, Zundel
writes, his "life was enriched."[20] The aged fascist played mentor
to the young in migrant, much as the old Houston Stewart Chamberlain
once played mentor to the young Adolf Hitler. Zundel credits Arcand
with bringing "order into my confused mind"[21] (elsewhere, he
declares that Hitler brought order to a confused Germany [22]).
Summing up his entire apprenticeship, Zundel states that "in distant
Canada he (Arcand) made a German out of me."[23] Indeed, his
autobiography proudly reproduces two photographs of the two men
sitting together.

In the mid-1960s, Zundel left Montreal and settled with his family in
Toronto, a city that, from 1963 to the end of the decade, was passing
through a visible phase of neo-Nazi activism. A youthful David
Stanley from suburban Scarborough was its first catalyst. When
Stanley repudiated neo-Nazism after having read Eric Hoffer's "The
True Believer," he was replaced by a not much older John Beattie as
local leader. Not surprisingly, Zundel began to associate with the
various Toronto neo-Nazi groups, including Stanley's and Beattie's.
He already possessed the largest private collection of Nazi
memorabilia in Canada, including books, portraits, insignia, etc. - a
collection conceivably enhanced by his rumoured inheritance of
Arcand's vast library of antisemitica.

However, he avoided leadership roles, preferring to stay on the
fringe; he had the leadership of another party in mind. Taking his
first stab at stardom, Zundel, despite his German citizenship, placed
his name in the 1968 leadership contest of the federal Liberal party
(credential arrangements at Canadian political conventions were
rather loose at that time). He described himself as a dark horse
candidate, representing what he referred to as "the third
element,"[24] i.e., ethnic groups whose ancestry was neither British
nor French. 

Zundel also portrayed himself as a staunch anti-Communist, making, of 
course, no mention of his neo-Nazi views and associations; since he 
was not known publicly in this capacity - in fact, he was not known 
at all - neither did anyone else. In his autobiography, he speaks of 
his candidacy as though it had constituted the sensation of the day. 
"I was therefore the only non-Minister and outsider. the youngest 
candidate and also the first immigrant and German Canadian in Canada's 
history who had achieved this. This gave me the image of a maverick, a 
Skorzeny figure of politics."[25] 

In reality, no one cared who he was, his nomination
attracted almost no attention, and he received not a single vote.
Immediately forgotten, he returned to obscurity in his double life.

During this period, Zundel had also been busy with his professional
and business career. In this pursuit, he was successful and soon
owned his own advertising agency and commercial studio. As an artist,
he worked for such national magazines as MacLean's, Homemaker's and
Quest: in December 1973, his name appeared in a full-page
advertisement, together with the names of other "writers.
illustrators and photographers" who had "all helped make Homemaker's
and Quest Canada's most successful new magazines."[26] Also, Zundel
twice won awards for his work from the Art Directors' Club of


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